ATM crimes have increased 10 percent each year since 2008, according to the Secret Service. A recent string of ATM skimming scams at Publix Supermarkets in South Florida have investigators working hard to find out who is responsible. Although skimming is not exclusive to Publix, recent news of these crimes, have put this issue in the forefront.
A skimming device is something that is attached to the ATM that reads the magnetic strip on your card and records your PIN. Sometimes these devices stick out a little from the ATM. Investigators say skimmers are typically attached using double-sided tape. They advise ATM users to shake the area where you insert your card. If it shakes or is loose, use another ATM.
Here are 10 things you can do to help yourself so that you are less likely to fall victim to these crimes:
- Be alert. That means, if something looks suspicious or seems out of place, use another ATM.
- Use ATMs that have cameras installed. Thieves are less likely to attach skimming devices to these. If possible, use ATMs inside the bank.
- Retrieve your card. If the machine does not return your card, call the bank right away.
- Count your money later. Counting your cash while standing at the ATM increases your chance of becoming a victim.
- Avoid people who stand to close to you while you’re processing a transaction. If they won’t stand back, go to another bank. Also, try not to be a person who stands too close when waiting in line to use the machine.
- Use your body as a shield when typing in your PIN. Never let anyone see your PIN. If you think your PIN has been compromised, call the bank and change it.
- Take your receipt. If you press “Yes” saying you want a receipt, don't walk away before taking it out of the machine.
- Stay off your cell phone. Talking or texting while using the ATM is a great way to set yourself up to be victimized. Besides, you’re also more likely to forget your card and your receipt. As much as you may think you can multitask successfully, doing so while at an ATM is not recommended.
- Lock your car. Whether you use a drive up ATM or step out of the car to use a walk-up ATM, make sure your car doors are locked.
- Avoid using ATMs after dark.
Unfortunately, some people will fall victim to ATM scams. The best thing to do is check your accounts regularly. If a transaction looks suspicious or you know it isn’t yours call the financial institution and report it. You are permitted to dispute transactions. Once a dispute has been set up, the financial institution is required to investigate it.